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Hospitals curb visitors as University sees 1,500% surge in COVID inpatients

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:29 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:43 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - University Hospital has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 inpatients in recent days as the super-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps the country.

In coping with the surged University as well as Doctors Hospital updated their visitation policies Monday.

Coping with a COVID spike

As of Monday, University Hospital has 49 COVID-19 inpatients, said spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester. That compares to 21 a week earlier on July 26.

Before the delta strain took full hold in the region, the hospital’s inpatient COVID count got down to three as recently as July 6.

That’s a 1,533 percent increase in about a month.

However, even 49 inpatients is well below where the hospital stood with nearly 150 inpatients at the height of the last big surge in January.

The hospital has admitted 41 COVID patients in the past seven days and discharged 16.

“We are caring for them on negative air pressure units in the main hospital,” Sylvester said.

During the peak of the pandemic, the hospital was housing COVID patients at the Summerville campus on Wrightsboro Road, but for now has not reopened that hospital as a COVID location, Sylvester said.

2 hospitals curbing visitors

Like Augusta University Health and Aiken Regional Medical Center, University has altered its visitation policy as a result of the surge.

University Hospital said Monday it is now only allowing two visitors per patient per day, with the exception of COVID patients, who can’t have any visitors.

For the full visitation policy, visit https://www.universityhealth.org/patient-visitor-information/for-visitors/visiting-hours.

The hospital is enforcing mandatory face masks for everyone, including staff, visitors, contractors and vendors.

Meanwhile, Doctors Hospital also announced new visiting policies on Monday:

  • One visitor, age 18 or older, per patient is welcome between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Visiting hours in special-care areas like the burn unit, the intensive-care unit, pediatrics department, emergency room and women’s center are posted in the units and may be restricted. Any deviation from visiting hours are to be discussed with the charge nurse/supervisor to assure patient rights, wishes and clinical care are not compromised.
  • Every effort shall be made to report any change in condition of the patient to the designated family liaison immediately.
  • Nursing and medical staff reserve the right to restrict/limit visitors.
  • Visitors who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed into the facility.
  • Exceptions can be granted by the house supervisor for extraordinary needs. No exceptions will be granted for high-risk areas such as neonatal ICU or other areas with high-risk patients.
  • Visitors who will be remaining in the facility after 9 p.m. will need to obtain a visitor pass at the security desk at the hospital emergency room entrance.
  • At least one family member will be able to stay at the bedside of any patient receiving emergency resuscitation while being provided appropriate education and support by the staff.

Vaccinations offered at hospital

University Hospital wants to remind the public of two upcoming COVID vaccination clinics, Aug. 4 and Aug. 12 in the cafeteria dining rooms of the main hospital, 1350 Walton Way.

The Moderna vaccine will be offered, so recipients will need to be 18 or older.

No one without an appointment will be turned away as long as there are enough doses for those who made appointments.

However, signing up for a spot on the attached will keep people from waiting in line and help the hospital anticipate staffing levels needed.

If you can’t make it on those dates, learn about other vaccination options at https://www.wrdw.com/2021/04/16/covid-19-vaccine-where-you-can-get-a-shot-in-2-state-region/.

Here are the links to sign up for the University Hospital clinics (information for the second-dose date can be found on the links):

Also in the news ...

  • The Georgia Department of Public Health has now posted a graphic detailing “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 in the state. A breakthrough case is when someone tests positive for COVID-19 14 days after completing their vaccination series - second shot in a two-dose series or one dose in a one-dose series. According to DPH, 4,908 people tested positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. That is 0.12 percent of the over 4.1 million fully-vaccinated Georgians. The agency says 118 (0.002853%) people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and a total of 24 (0.00058%) died due to COVID.

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